Clariant opens customer care innovation center in New Jersey, launches waterless personal care concept

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Clariant executives cutting the ribbon at the new Customer Care Innovation Center in New Jersey (left to right) Ralf Zerrer, Christian Vang, Neslihan Urkan, and Michael Haspel
Clariant executives cutting the ribbon at the new Customer Care Innovation Center in New Jersey (left to right) Ralf Zerrer, Christian Vang, Neslihan Urkan, and Michael Haspel

Related tags Clariant Product development waterless Innovation influencers

The specialty chemical company has expanded and divided up its US-based business. Yesterday in New Providence, New Jersey, Clariant welcomed press and customer partners to tour a new facility, learn about the company’s latest—waterless—product prototypes, and gain insight into Clariant’s new approach to personal care.

Tuesday’s grand opening event at the Clariant Consumer Care Innovation Center brought a handful of press (including Cosmetics Design) and 50 some customer partners to New Providence, New Jersey. The 2 groups toured the center and heard from facility leaders and corporate executives during separate events yesterday. But there was, no doubt, cross-over in what they saw and heard.

The new facility, headed by Neslihan Utkan, business director of customer care, is dedicated to customer care innovation; ingredients, prototypes, and concepts for personal care, for hair care, and for laundry care. The company’s Charlotte, North Carolina, facility will continue to serve customers as an industrial applications lab (lubricants, paints and coatings, agrochemicals, automotive brake fluids and coolants, etc.). Clariant chose a New Jersey location for the new center to be closer to its beauty industry customers and more connected to the region’s lively end consumer market as well.  

The indie beauty effect

Throughout yesterday’s press event, the team at Clariant noted the impact that the current indie beauty movement has had on ingredient innovation, on new product development and speed to market, on the importance of locally relevant brands, and more.

Company executives including Christian Vang, global head of industrial and consumer specialties and Ralph Zerrer, head of strategic marketing and innovation, who noted that multinational cosmetics and personal care manufacturers are working to be as sustainable and as agile as indie brands and that big beauty now expects suppliers like Clariant to help them develop regionally relevant products with local natural ingredients as well as with locally developed chemical innovations.

And in his presentation of the company’s new ReMagine product concept, marketing manager Kevin Song showed an inspiration board that included products from legacy manufacturers as well as from indie brands like ethique​.  

The power of people

With the new customer care innovation center, it’s clear that Clariant has keyed in on the power of people and is endeavoring to bridge the communication and knowledge gaps between industry insiders and influencers and consumers.

At Tuesday’s press event, Seattle, Washington – based makeup artist and influencer Tanya Cheban spoke alongside technical applications chemist Heeseon Kim. A format meant to connect the worlds of chemists and consumers and to illustrate that Clariant’s customer care business is “not just about raw materials but about thinking how we can better understand the needs of our customer… and finding different ways to work that really involve the outside and greater ecosystem [of beauty],”​ Song told the press.

And later during executive presentations, Michael Haspel, regional business unit head of industrial and consumer specialties, shared an anecdote about his own journey to better appreciate the beauty consumer experience. It was an anecdote that signaled how the industry is indeed shifting to think and act in terms of ‘insumers’, people who are at once employees and consumers. (Learn more about the insumer concept, forecast at last year’s FIT capstone presentation event, here on Cosmetics Design.​)

The future of product development

If the Clariant team is correct, personal care product development in the foreseeable future will be sustainable, collaborative, and experiential.

Earlier this month the Dow Jones Sustainability Index listed Clariant “as one of the most sustainable companies in the global chemical sector for the seventh consecutive year,” ​according to a media release about the designation. And at Tuesday’s press event at the new consumer care innovation center, sustainability was a constant thread running through building design features and product formulation strategy.

The center has also been carefully designed to facilitate collaboration among the 24 people working there as well as between Clariant and its customer partners, its other facilities and innovation centers around the world, and with consumer focus groups and influencers.

And just as beauty retail is evolving to be ever more experiential, so too is consumer application and product use. The sensorial attributes of formulations are a necessary component of an experiential product, which was evident during the presentation by from Tanya Cheban and Heeseon Kim.

Kim talked through a skin care collection that she and her colleagues developed “to correlate what food has the benefits and what the food texture is like into personal care products.”

Pamplemousse Splash, a serum prototype, which Kim described sensorially as having a “light liquid texture”​ and that was developed as a “play on grapefruit juice and that also smells like grapefruit” ​was described by Cheban: “I love skin care; so I layer my products. I use like a lot of moisturizers and this is great for layering. It’s really light weight, absorbs into the skin. You don’t have to worry about it being too heavy or greasy throughout the day”

The latest Clariant concept  

Clariant showcased a new single-dose, waterless concept called ReMagine at the innovation center opening event this week. The collection of 5 products (facial cleanser, SPF 30 sunscreen, nourishing night cream, creamy shampoo, and repairing conditioner) is a departure from conventional personal care product formats.

In his presentation of the ReMagine line, Song shared data showing that “the [consumer] interest in and willingness to pay for the different format is actually really big” ​with 69% willing to try a waterless facial cleanser, 68% willing to try a sunscreen stick, and again 68% willing to pay more for refillable packaging (which single-dose, waterless products are nicely compatible with).

The new ReMagine personal care product concept will be on display at next week’s SCC Suppliers Day event in Long Beach, California (Clariant’s booth at the show will be #554), and is just one of many new prototype collections that will come out of the new customer care innovation center in the months and years ahead.



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.


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